Filling Our Tank When We’re Running Out of Gas

When you are running out of gas

The other day, I actually ran out of gas. I couldn’t believe it. On second thought, maybe I could. I was stressed to the max and not taking care of myself. I was on my way to the beach to watch the sun rise, when all of a sudden my car began to act strange. “What the heck is wrong? Do I need a tune up?” The steering wheel froze, the car spit, started, lurched and came to a stop. Dumbfounded, I glanced at the gas gauge and then it hit me. Two days ago, I noticed the gas gauge was on empty and told myself I didn’t have enough time to stop. Often when I am running on empty (figuratively), I tell myself I am too busy to tend to those things in my life that need attention. Running out of gas is indeed a metaphor I need to remember when I find myself running on fumes.

There are many reasons we get burned out and it’s important that we recognize not only the symptoms and signs, but what causes burnout in the first place. What can we do on a daily basis to keep us filled up?

I am going to provide you with a tool that will help you quickly identify the sources and signs of burnout and what you can do to restore balance to your life.

So grab some paper, a pen and allow me to guide you to creating your own Self Care Inventory.

The Self-Care Inventory is broken into 3 parts.

  • The Dashboard Lights
  • The Gas Guzzlers
  • The Fuel Tank Fillers

The Dashboard Lights

Not exercising is a huge dashboard light for me –  a sign that I am back in the “scarcity mentality”. The scarcity mentality is the myth that there is not enough time, talent energy or resources available. Exhaustion sets in and I can barely get off the couch, watching one CSI episode after another. I’m not even motivated enough to walk my dog. Negative thinking sneaks up on me and I find myself incessantly chastising my family and those around me, getting angry in traffic, and honking and impatiently yelling at the guy in front of me. I am critical of everyone around me, and especially with myself. I know it’s bad when I can’t stand hearing my husband chewing his food. Self-compassion is out the window, and I don’t like who I am. These are all clearly dashboard lights. Signs that I need to slow down, pay attention, pull over and fill my tank.

Here are some of mine:


The Gas Guzzlers

How could I possibly be so stupid to run out of gas? Well, I didn’t pay attention to my dashboard light. It’s as simple as that.

Gas-guzzlers are sneaky, sure, and not always immediately identifiable until we be become aware of them. And sometimes they still creep up on us. For a while, they may even feel good.

In our culture, busyness is worn like a badge of honor. As a recovering people pleaser, I have a hard time saying no. A part of my identity has always been trying to take on the world’s problems with the belief that I could make it all better. This is something that I have to monitor to this day.

Gas-guzzlers take on many forms –  perfectionism, attempting to please others, or striving incessantly to be and do more. We may feel overly responsible to take care of others and pour ourselves out without ever stopping to refuel until our health and relationships suffer.

It is important that we identify and detect these areas that suck us dry in order to establish boundaries when necessary, slow down, get back on track and refuel.

Here are mine:


The Fuel Tank Fillers

What is life giving to you?

Recovering from burnout requires replenishing your resources with people, places, and things that clear your head to create feelings of well-being.

These are the things that fill your emotional, physical and spiritual tank. When you adopt these daily practices, you feel more grounded, peaceful and joyful.

For me, this involves meditation, prayer, listening to music, reading, running, and spending time with family and friends. Here are more. I will have these written and a picture in my notebook)

The Self-Care Inventory is a wonderful tool. I have mine where I can see it as a daily reminder to refuel with the activities that are life giving. Using this tool will help you to clearly recognize activities that deplete you. While you may not be able to completely rid them from your life, you will be able to gauge them, assess your energy resources, and take time to replenish your tank.

Here is my typed out and completed list I post next to my computer to remind me.


I hope that by sharing mine, that it helped you to think about what yours might be!

The more we can replenish our resources with what creates feelings of well-being emotionally, physically, and spiritually, the more grounded, peaceful and joyful we will feel!

Questions:  What is one thing you would like to do to create a greater sense of well-being today?

Similar Posts